On this long Thanksgiving weekend, in addition to taking some time away from the office, I also took some time to catch up on this, my personal blog. Here’s an overdue post reflecting on my 2013 VMworld EU experience as a member of the vBrownbag crew.
First and foremost I want to thank our awesome sponsors and applaud the efforts of the entire Global vBrownbag Crew who worked together with VMware Community power team: John Troyer @jtroyer, Corey Romero @vCommunityGuy and Tony Dunn @Tony_Dunn. Together these folks made it possible for Damian @sixfootdad, @GreggRobertson5, GS @gurusimran, John Harris @vCACGuy and myself @kylemurley to bring the Community Powered vBrownbag TechTalks to you live from VMworld EU in Barcelona, Spain.
In the HangSpace we had a first class setup in a prime location at the entrance to the Community Lounge. The layout consisted of comfortable couches and chairs, Blogger tables with power and even hardwired network connections. Up front and center we had a very legit newsroom studio broadcast table with a sharp VMworld 2013 backdrop. We brought along audio video hardware to make Livestreaming to the internet and archiving possible. For the in person audience we had rows of seats up front, facing a set of speakers and dual flat panel displays on either side.
More than 25 Tech Talk presenters gave their lightning talks across three days. Topics varied from getting started with DevOps, building homelabs, certification paths, to building a VMUG chapter. By far the most popular session was William Lam’s #UnSupported Tech Talk which drew a crowd of 35+ live viewers and pushed our stream over the double digits. What all of the presenters have in common is they are enthusiastic volunteers who contribute willingly to the vBrownbag community by sharing their knowledge and resources.
Software Defined difficulties – Pulling off the TechTalks requires the daily setup and tear down of a somewhat complex system comprised of live video feeds from multiple HD cameras, a network for screencasting from the presenter laptop, local PPT of bumper/agenda slides, an audio feed from multiple wireless mics. All of this is then mixed and output to two local displays for the in person audience plus fed to a live stream on the interwebs. On the first day we got a solid workflow down by about the third presenter. That is, as long as everything worked as expected. Being technologists, the crew of volunteer hosts and presenters all realize that things don’t always work as expected and that’s why our jobs even exist, right? Well, the vBrownbag Tech Talks were no exception. Based on previous experience, changes to the setup were made in between VMworld US and Europe. The MBP running the software to support the muxing was “upgraded”(?) to Win7. This caused some weirdness at times and even the occasional BSOD. It was character building to say the least! The good thing is we all worked through it and our guest presenters were more than patient with us as we powered through making it happen for the community!
Crunchy Cloud Hardware Failures – All of the equipment for the audio/video feeds had to broken down, packed up and stored for the night as it couldn’t be left out. Like good geeks, we had diagrams, procedures, narrative descriptions, screenshots and camera phone images of all the cables and labels in their correct configuration. There is one thing all of that still can’t save you from and that is the laws of physics, specifically when dealing with electrical power supplies, voltage converters, sockets, plugs and the like. On Wednesday morning as everything was being set back up, our audio mixer suffered a fatal power related failure that knocked us down for a bit and had us scrambling. Being the social community people that we are, our immediate reaction was to reach out to our friends, colleagues and partners at the conference to see if they could help. Tweets were sent, texts & IMs went out and within the hour our incredible community came through for us with a new (even better) mixer that brought us back online and the Tech Talks continued.
Community Powered Love – Overall, the entire VMworld experience has been incredible. The TechTalks confirm what we already know, vBrownbag definitely feels the warm embrace of the transcontinental (heck, global) virtualization community and that is what powers us. As professionals in the industry that we work in, a very high level of technical skill and knowledge is needed but those who truly perform at their optimal rely heavily upon and share back to the distributed braintrust that is ever so vibrant and growing. It is almost a palpable sensation. I know that a personal sense of commitment to pay it back/forward is what motivates me as a member of the vBrownbag Crew and leader of the LATAM vBrownbag.
Don’t Stop Brownbaggin! – If you weren’t able to attend VMworld EU in Barcelona this year, or even if you did but never made it to the community lounge, I invite you to check out the many TechTalks that have been posted. http://new.livestream.com/accounts/237166/events/2471607
As you watch, think about joining us for a live session and presenting a deepdive technical demo yourself. There’s mounds and mounds of opportunity for a global community across our four GEO locations ( US, EMEA, APAC & LATAM )